The Edgecumbe Volunteer Fire Brigade, representing the Whakatane district, have been named supreme winners at the Trustpower National Community Awards.
The awards were announced last night at the 2017 Trustpower National Community Awards dinner at the Kawarau Bungy Centre in Queenstown.
South Invercargill Urban Rejuvenation Charitable Trust South Alive, a group representing Invercargill Southland, was named the runner-up and the Whetū Mātaiata Award winner was the Kura Precious Ones Special Needs Support Group from Wairoa District.
The announcement followed a full day for the 25 teams participating in the Trustpower National Community Awards. Each regional team gave an eight-minute presentation on their activities or project in a judging session held at the Queenstown Memorial Centre.
The teams were judged on that presentation and on a 1000 word summary about each group provided prior to the event.
The Edgecumbe Volunteer Fire Brigade was represented at the awards by Bruce Knight and Tracey Lloyd along with Whakatane mayor Tony Bonne.
This group of highly trained volunteers pledge round the clock support to their community in times of need. In the days and weeks following the Edgecumbe flooding last year, members logged thousands of hours getting their community back on its feet.
The brigade received a custom-made trophy, $4000 in prize money, a $1000 Exult voucher and a framed certificate. The runners-up received $2500 prizemoney, and a framed certificate.
The Whetū Mātaiata Award winner, Kura Precious Ones Special Needs Support Group, received an Exult consultancy service package to the value of $3250.
Trustpower Community and Communications Manager Emily Beaton said the Edgecumbe Volunteer Fire Brigade had a heart-felt presentation about their resilient community and the hard work of its volunteers.
"These every day heroes show commitment, comraderie and support which are the key ingredients for a strong community.
"Trustpower is proud to lead the way in recognising, rewarding and celebrating the incredible contribution volunteers make to New Zealand communities.
"All 25 groups participating are shining examples of the amazing work volunteers undertake every day in cities and districts all around New Zealand. These groups have already won recognition in their regions and we are delighted to be able to showcase their efforts nationally at this weekend's event," she said.
The Awards were judged by a panel of independent judges, including Hadyn Jones from TVNZ Good Sorts and Fair Go, Scott Miller, chief executive of Volunteering NZ, Henare O'Keefe, previous Kiwibank Hero of the Year, Janice Lee from Koha Kai, "Ferg", a local Queenstown radio DJ from The Hits, Rosie Julou General Manager of Exult, Vince Hawksworth Trustpower chief executive and Jess Cartwright, reporter for TVNZ based in Central Otago.
Also involved in the judging process were each of the 25 voluntary groups at the awards, with the peer voting making up 50 per cent of the final judging score and the independent judging panel's votes making up the other 50 per cent.
The groups were judged on five criteria: volunteer input; use of resources; initiative and creativity; effectiveness of activities; and impact on targeted audience and/or community.
The judges said the Edgecumbe Volunteer Fire Brigade clearly have a family of volunteers who do an incredible job and who make a contribution to the community, sometimes at a personal cost to themselves.
They are "heroes in every sense of the word".